2016 has been an intense, rollercoaster ride of a year and the music world has treated us to some of the most exciting and groundbreaking releases we have heard in a while! The fourth largest debuts this year have been highly anticipated albums from super stars such as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga as they have paved new roads in the music landscape. So as the year is finally winding down, we took the pleasure to review 2016’s four albums with the largest first week debuts.


Beyoncé - Lemonade

Back in March, Beyoncé shook the world with her sixth studio album and accompanied movie, Lemonade. Selling over one million units so far this year solely in the U.S., the album debuted with 653,000 equivalent album units in its first week, making it the number one album debut of the year. Lemonade covers a variety of different genre’s from rock and R&B, to country while aggressively delving into themes of infidelity and ultimately, forgiveness. The brilliantly directed movie, threaded with a narrative written by Somali poet Warson Shire, specifically goes more into themes of black women empowerment. The album has received positive critical acclaim from a number of sources, earning a 92/100 on metacritic. Lemonade, still sitting in the top twenty of iTunes since its spring release, has been one of the most impactful albums on pop culture this year and proven to be the super star’s strongest album to date lyrically and vocally. The impact the one hour long movie has made on concept albums and music releases has opened a door for artists to move towards more creative endeavors with introducing new music in the 21st century.


Lady Gaga - Joanne

Among the most diverse and exciting album releases we have heard this year, Lady Gaga surprised the world with her highly anticipated fifth studio album, named after her late aunt, Joanne. The Applause singer’s infamous catchy hooks, aggressive pop beats and melodies were all stripped away on the singers fifth album, as she sang over a cohesive collection of eclectic soft rock beats and country elements. With collaborations from Mark Ronson, Tame Impala, Father John Misty and Florence Welch, Gaga’s vocals are beautifully showcased throughout her most personal album to date. The album debuted with over 170,000 sales in its first week, making it her fourth album to reach #1 on the Billboard top 200. Joanne’s successful debut has also made Gaga the only female this decade to have four consecutive number one album’s on Billboard. The album received generally favorable reviews from Rolling Stones to the Guardian, all noting how the change in genre was a bold move for the 30 year old super star as she evolves yet again in all her groundbreaking, artistic glory.


Drake - Views

Rapper Drake released his fourth album Views back in May and it remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for 13 consecutive weeks. The album sold over 852,000 copies in its first week and achieved over 245 million streams as well, making it one of the top four album debuts of the year. Some critics have stated that the album was missing more of a fresh perspective that gave us something different from his previous work. However, the album earned favorable reviews by The Lost Angeles Times and NME, claiming how the album featured a number of beautiful tracks including the popular “Too Good” featuring Rihanna. "Hotline Bling" was an inescapable sensation that dominated popular culture for the first quarter of the year. The albums second single “One Dance” became the rapper's first number one single on the Billboard 200 and remained number one for ten weeks. The 20 track album, featuring rappers from Kanye West to Future, has been one of the most talked about albums of the year as well as the most successful of the rapper's career.


Frank Ocean - Blonde

After a series of delays and overwhelming anticipation following his first successful release, Channel Orange, Frank Ocean had finally released his album Blonde, in August of this year. Featuring collaborations from Beyoncé, Andre 3000 and Tyler the Creator to James Blake, the experimental R&B album sky rocketed to the number one spot on the Billboard 200 and received widespread acclaim from numerous critics. In its first week the album sold over 276,000 units making it the third highest debut of the year. Blonde was also streamed 65.4 million times on Apple Music and reached number one in several countries around the world. Delving deeper into emotions and philosophical concepts over its psychedelic dreamy beats, Blonde sets itself apart from Channel Orange sonically and lyrically, drawing the listener into the ultimate experience.